by Tim Finholt

I recently read that David Blum has died, author of "Casals and the Art of Interpretation," "The Art of Quartet Playing," and "Paul Tortelier: A Self-Portrait," as well as profiles of Yo-Yo Ma, Joseph Gingold, Bernard Greenhouse, and Shin-ichi Suzuki. Though I didn't know him well, I still find that I mourn his passing. He was a wonderful writer and a great musician, as can be heard from his recording of Haydn symphonies with the Esterhazy Orchestra.

Mr. Blum's work has played a significant role in my musical life. Especially influential was his book on Casals, which I read over and over in my college days. I remember telling him, like a rabid groupie, that I absolutely loved his book, even it's size and how it felt to hold.

We didn't speak much after that.

Years later, when I arranged his talk on Casals at the University of Washington, I had the privilege of having several long conversations with him about the legendary cellist. He patiently endured my grilling of him on why playing like Casals is not "fashionable" today. He fought back well, saying that profound musicianship never goes out of style, and that Casals' level of artistry transcends time. I now wish I had recorded these talks, and I wish he had granted one of my many requests for an interview.

As you all know, I do a lot of writing for the Internet Cello Society. Whenever I sit down to write, I always think, "This is pretty good, but it's not as good as David Blum's work." For me, he will always be the standard. I will miss him, but I find comfort in the fact that his books are on my shelf when I need inspiration.

Good-bye, Mr. Blum.

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